When I was a bride I taught myself how to cook, and custards were among my first triumphs. I read about soft, stove top custards (called "Boiled Custard" in the South), baked custard, caramel cup custard (or crème caramel), even crème brulée. I had made them all except crème brulée, which I have yet to do, but shall one day. I've made custard pies and fresh fruit with custard sauce. I've made the packaged "puddings" since I was a child, but there are times when I hanker for plain old custard.
I have the basic recipe for custard in my head--two cups of whole milk, 1/4 cup of sugar, two egg yolks and one whole egg, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. The more I thought about it, the more I found myself mentally making a custard, but all this mental exercise wasn't getting me any creamy dessert. I could make a soft custard in a matter of minutes--but a baked custard would take about an hour in the oven. Never mind, it could be baked in my little glass custard cups and would be neatly portioned out for the future. I would forget about the burnt sugar topping (poured in the bottom of the cups, later inverted) and make the plain delicious stuff.
For company I usually do the caramel, and use some half-and-half in the mixture. But this spartan version would serve just as well for me. I measured the milk into a saucepan and brought it to the "scald" stage while I whisked the egg yolks, egg, and sugar in a bowl. I had to search through my pans for a big enough to hold the four cups plus hot water to keep the custard from overcooking. I added the warm milk to the eggs while water heated up and the oven heated up to 325° Fahrnheit. Baked the custards for an hour while I watched television.
It was a first run-through for the dessert in my new kitchen, and for that, the outcome was perfect. The little custards were nice, plain--and perfect comfort food. I must do them again sometime soon.